The stories and poems in Truth and Lamentation, written during and after the Holocaust, reveal the human faces hidden behind the all-too-familiar statistics of the event. International in scope, this volume brings together 20 short stories and 90 poems commenting on the essentially incomprehensible nature of the Holocaust. Milton Teichman and Sharon Leder have drawn from a remarkably varied range of writers, representing nine languages and including both Jews and Gentiles. The contributors include the well known and the as yet unknown. A critical introduction places the selections within two broad categories of literary response to the Holocaust - truthtelling and lamentation. The first reflects the desire of writers to transmit multiple truths; the second expresses sorrow and loss.
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"Insensate, gray, degenerate they toil, / Cut off from human life, / Stiff, wounded, branded with official stamps," poet Gertrud Kolmar wrote in 1933, eerily predicting the Holocaust. In a vivid, lyrical prose piece, Irena Klepfisz speaks from the point of view of a three-year-old child who with her mother is passing as Polish. Sara Nomberg-Przytyk writes of a pregnant young woman in Auschwitz. Jerzy Ficowski offers lullaby-like words to an infant handed over to Christians outside the Warsaw ghetto. Alongside familiar writers of Holocaust literature (Elie Wiesel, Nelly Sachs) are others known mainly to avid poetry readers (William Heyen, William Pillin), and better-known writers are displayed in a new context (Adrienne Rich, Marge Piercy). Among writings that grew out of the ghettos, the works of Simcha Bunim Shayevitsh, written shortly before his deportation to Auschwitz, draw moving parallels between Biblical accounts of exile and the people being carted off in 1942. Fortunately, the works in this volume are strong and rich enough to transcend the editors' simplistic analysis. Teichman is a professor of English at Marist College in New York; Leder wrote The Language of Exclusion.
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"An impressive anthology ... that spans the spectrum of Holocaust experience and explores the varieties of Holocaust response and implications for future generations." -- S. Lillian Kremer, author of Witness through the Imagination: Jewish American Holocaust Literature
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